JESSICA JANN INVITES ROSEMARY VANDENBROUCKE TO THE ENVOY
Actually this issue is more of a ‘model lounge’ than a model lunch as I have plumped to dine at cocktail haunt The Envoy. On my first visit I was attracted by the evocative decor (and the inventive cocktails) so I decided to return with a special guest to sample the food menu of refined European staples. All-rounder Rosemary Vandenbroucke – she’s an actress and singer too – is one of the city’s most visible celebrity models. The lanky Eurasian began modelling in her early teens and branched into acting in 2012, starring in the Singapore-produced TV show The Kitchen Musical. Last year she launched a luxury fashion rental service, LuxTNT.
Jessica Jann: Rosemary, you always look in amazing shape! What’s your secret?
Rosemary Vandenbroucke: I’m definitely very blessed. I’ve always loved playing sports; I was super athletic as a child and I did five years of modern jazz dance training. I love being active every day – hiking, climbing mountains, doing Hot Flow yoga classes at Pure Fitness; I love to sweat! But I do have to watch what I eat. I limit my meat intake. It’s all about eating in moderation.
Jess: What’s your typical daily diet?
Rose: I usually start the day with a Hot Flow class, so I won’t eat anything beforehand. Afterwards, I’ll have a Key West smoothie at Nood. It’s filling, nourishing and so good! I eat very little in the morning and for lunch might have Pad Thai or Vietnamese pho [noodles] which will last me until dinner. I try to eat early, before 7pm or 8pm. I’m very conscious of the amount of food I consume.
Jess: Was there a particular moment when you realised you wanted to be a model?
Rose: No. Actually I was discovered at age 13 by a model agent, Mee-Yian [Yong of Starz People] during a swimming class at the YMCA. She handed me a flyer that read ‘Be the Next Supermodel’. I didn’t really believe it, but my mom saw the flyer. Somehow as fate would play out I had an interview a few years later with an agent at Elite and that evening was told I was in the top 15 of Elite Model Look, an international modelling competition. My whole life changed after that.
Jess: What was it like being a teenage model in Hong Kong?
Rose: I went to school, did my homework, while simultaneously going to casting calls and doing shows. Juggling both was tiring yet rewarding; my pager was always going off in class! I still had to keep my grades up though.
Jess: What’s the most difficult thing about modelling?
Rose: Time management. I’m a very ambitious person, so I try to do a lot in a day. Hours are long in this industry. I remember shooting a TV commercial in Thailand and still being strapped into a harness at 4am trying to get that perfect shot. It’s tough and sometimes very tiring. Another time we were filming outdoors in the freezing cold and all I had on was a long skirt and a bra top; I swear my lips turned blue!
Jess: What advice would you give to aspiring models or girls who may look up to you?
Rose: Discover your own inner strength for yourself. Everyone is the director of his/her own life, so make it as amazing as you can. Create your own future.
Jess: What’s the best tip anyone has ever given you about life?
Rose: “When there’s a will, there’s a way!” Make the most of your life. We all want to attain happiness. The key is to visualise a picture of what you want and then backtrack from that point, envisaging how to get there, making a plan for it to happen. I leant this when I was doing a course in neuro-linguistic programming.
Jess: That’s awesome. Any new year resolutions or plans for your upcoming wedding?
Rose: There’s so much I want to do with the wedding, but you know I just need to picture it and then actually get to it! Overall, my resolutions fit into the theme of one big challenge. In February I did a three-day ultra-marathon in Mongolia as well as the Moontrekker [nighttime endurance competition on Lantau]. I want to keep trying new things and pushing my body to its limits. I want to take up kite surfing. And go to the Dominican Republic!
Jess: You’re always so fashionable on the runway and at events. Who’s your style icon?
Rose: I don’t particularly follow any style icons, though I do admire a lot of stars. I flip through magazines when I’m on my jobs to get inspiration. My usual look for my days off is sports and yoga wear. I like to be comfortable. A DVF wrap dress works well for me too. For work, I have to dress up in heels, so I like to wear tight, flattering clothes.
Jess: Do you cook a lot or prefer to eat out?
Rose: I’m spoiled because my fiance, Jason Swamy, loves to cook, and he’s always finding new places to eat. His nickname is Swamy Bourdain! Sushi Kuu is my go-to place. Their salmon lettuce wrap is so good! I’ve also started to eat at BEP [Vietnamese Kitchen] quite frequently too.
Jess: What’s in your handbag?
Rose: I usually carry a big tote. I pack sports clothing, flats, makeup remover and skincare products because after a workout I like to steam and use the sauna. Actually I have an emergency closet in my car – extra heels, flats, jackets, tennis bag. I’m quite spontaneous, doing whatever I feel like doing, so I keep everything in my car!
Jess: What’s your one-year mini goal? And where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Rose: I want to continue working on Lux TNT. It’s an online luxury delivery rental service and it’s doing really well. We plan to expand our offices to other Asian cities such as Jakarta. In 10 years, I’ll probably be married with kids. We’ll see.
Jess: What are your plans for the holiday?
Rose: I have to do a lot of wedding planning! Actually Jason and I are taking a three-week holiday, island-hopping. We want an extensive photo travel journal for our wedding, though in truth we’re not rushing anything, just going with the flow.
Food Uni [sea urchin]
Drink Ginger ale, or a Key West smoothie at Nood Food
Film The Notebook
Destination Bali − I go often! But there are many other places I still want to visit.
Shop in Hong Kong LuxTNT, as well as grocery stores! City Super, Just Green . . .
Must-have item My phone, though when I’m with company I try not to use it
Place in Hong Kong The Twins
Guilty pleasure Salted caramel cupcakes at Sift
It may not be the most visible of night spots, situated on the third floor of the new luxury boutique hotel, The Pottinger, in Central, but The Envoy has garnered a reputation as a must-visit cocktail bar and lounge. It’s a beautiful space, channelling both a colonial West meets East and a rustic meets modern vibe. There is Oriental-print wallpaper, English period pieces, dark wood panelling and an impressive outdoor patio. It buzzes with people every night, attracted by the decor and an eclectic selection of signature cocktails and creative mixed drinks designed by famed bartender Antonio Lai. And as I was surprised to discover, they serve quite an extensive food menu.
We started with perfect mini deep-fried crabcake balls that come with a side of spicy tomato sauce. Served as a lollipop, each crab cake is packed with crabmeat and cheese. We found them to our satisfaction and couldn’t wait for our mains. These arrived steaming hot and the portions were gigantic. Baked king prawn linguini smelled heavenly so we eagerly indulged in the bouncy, carby pasta laden with fresh ginger, spring onions and a spicy tomato concasse. The prawns were indeed king-sized, sweet and meaty.
Next came our 14oz grilled US prime rib-eye steak. Presented with a side of root vegetables, it proved every bit as luscious as it looked. Each perfectly medium rare bite was dipped into a buttery ceps cream sauce – wonderful! I ordered my favourite Bloody Mary to sip as I savoured my steak.
We finished with Death by Chocolate, which was dressed with a scoop of milky, creamy vanilla ice cream and a longan dark rum compote, and a second sweet choice of lemon and lime tart with whisky caramel sauce. I love how all the desserts include components of their signature alcoholic counterparts. The Envoy is highly recommended for its drinks, but the food is an absolute delight too.
The Envoy, 3/F, The Pottinger Hong Kong, 74 Queen’s Road, Central, tel: 2169 3311, www.thepottinger.com
Model, actress and foodie Jessica Jann hails from sunny California where she majored in theatre and business at Irvine. She made her screen debut in Lethal Weapon 4 at age eight. Now living in Hong Kong, she’s signed to Bullet Films. Follow her food journey at www.eatwithjess.com and in this column as she takes supermodels out for lunch.